With an open mind, a humble disposition, and a supportive mentality, Acharaman dared to lend a voice with his music in the Imo music scene. Now with Charly Boy behind his back, and wielding all that power, he is daring to replicate that in the Nigerian music scene. How?
On that sunny midday in Owerri, Acharaman walked into the Igolo Abiam Place along Wetheral Road, a co-working space where the MetroLife Nigeria team and other start-ups use for their businesses. “This place is serene”, he says, referring to the calm atmosphere that almost always envelopes the entire building. “I may have to shoot my next video here, you know”, he continues, but this time with a typical Igbo accent, sending laughter down our chins. As we walked in to our space, he continued to appreciate the idea behind a co-working space, and continued to visualize how his next video would look like if he shot it there. “This background will really look good, you know”, he points at the brick walls used to design some parts of the inner space. I take the opportunity to show him some other designs in the building.
This would not be my first interview with Acharaman. In January, 2018, he had told me during an interview how he started off his music career, how he came up with the name Acharaman, and how he moved to Lagos and back in a bid to break in to the music industry. That experience which has now shaped his life is the reason for his project of 2020. Since February, 2020, Acharaman has been working on a project he calls “The Conversation”. It’s a series of short videos with the sole purpose of lending his voice against bad governance and reawakening his people’s minds to it through music. During the #EndSars Protests in October, 2020, he protested alone in the streets of Owerri calling the government’s attention to bad roads in the state.This he said is his mission for the year 2020. “The reason why I created the conversation is uhm, you know we’re living in a generation where the elites, or should I say the powers that be doesn’t want the youths to see the light of the day. So if you want to pass a message of revolution, or you want to pass a message to awaken the consciousness of the youths, the radio will not give you that audience, the television will not give you that audience, and if you put such a thing in your commercial records, it won’t fly”, he tells me.
The 9-episode series which made allowances for features with other Imo based artists like 2Blac, LMG, UC Flamez, Strit, and popular names like Charly Boy, and Ruffcoin, would not be his only project for the year. He would go on to work on projects for pay TV brand, TSTV, a commercial for energy drink, Bullet Nigeria, a video, “I Can’t Breathe” in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter protesters in the United States, a rap single “Shame The Devil”, and another video mimicking President Buhari’s delayed speech in response to the Lekki toll gate shootings, “Presidential Speech”. And for the year 2021, Acharaman hopes to release only singles to solidify his place in the industry.
His big break, so to speak, came after he released the 5th episode of The Conversation series back in August. Nigeria’s conscious music veteran, Charly Boy, had been watching from the sidelines and wanted in on the conversation, not just because he appreciates Acharaman’s efforts, but because he wants to guide him towards this path of conscious music. That can only mean one thing. All of a sudden, that young lad in Owerri whose whole interest was to pass a message of revolution and change through his music has now attracted a veteran in the industry who wants to guide him and see him achieve that feat nationwide. “While I was doing what I was doing in Owerri, a lot of people were not paying attention. And most times you get discouraged by the number of views you have on social media…it was the 5th episode, I was just going through my DM on Instagram, I first of all saw a follow back mention and I saw @areafada1 followed you. I looked at it and it was Charly Boy, I checked it, it was verified, I munch am and then I sent it to my boy (friend) Strit and said check this. He checked it and said it’s Area Fada, e no give me confidence. I forwarded the same message again to like three or four people, still e no give me confidence. Then I said okay let me now forward it to 2Blac, and 2Blac said O boy na Charly Boy o, I said okay. So I wasn’t paying attention to my DM too, I was just going through my mentions. So I looked up there and saw something blinking up there and I opened it and it was him. He said hello Acharaman, I am Charly Boy, are you in Lagos? I want to see you. Please drop your number. I dropped my number he didn’t call me the first day, the second day I was in the studio working so around like 2:30pm in the afternoon somebody called with a gentle mellowed voice. My name is Charly Boy. I said eehh Fada. He said see me tomorrow morning. I left that thing I was doing, called my boys (friends) 2Blac, Strit, Best Kid, we sat down and I said guys I must leave this night”, he tells me. It was Ruffcoin, an old friend in the industry that received him the following day in Lagos and drove him alongside music producer Big Switch, to Charly Boy’s estate, and The Conversation episode 6 was produced, recorded, and the video shot with Charly Boy rendering the “our mumu don do” line.
What exactly is going to come out of this bromance between Acharaman and Charly Boy? Is this an opportunity to relaunch himself as a voice in the mainstream music industry? What is the nature of the support he’ll receive from Charly Boy? Sitting in the MetroLife Nigeria space, we spend hours talking about his journey, how he’s built a brand for himself in conscious music, and what’s next for him.
Tim Uwakwe: So what’s the idea behind The Conversation?
Acharaman: The reason why I created the conversation is uhm, you know we’re living in a generation where the elites, or should I say the powers that be doesn’t want the youths to see the light of the day. So if you want to pass a message of revolution, or you want to pass a message to awaken the consciousness of the youths, the radio will not give you that audience, the television will not give you that audience, and if you put such a thing in your commercial records, it won’t fly. So that’s why I created that series called The Conversation, where I can discuss issues that are bothering us as a people individually, generally, be it domestic violence, be it economy, whatever it is, it can be captured in the series.
How are you putting it out there?
So far the audience is being targeted via artificial media, that is, social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Whatsapp. I came up with episode 1 in February. Episode 1 I did it alone. Episode 2 I did it with 2Blac. Episode 3 I did it with LMG, that’s the one that centered on domestic violence. Episode 4 I did it with UC Flames. Episode 5 I did it with 2Blac, Strit, Ijay, yeah, then, episode 6 I did it with Charly Boy, the area Fada. Episode 7 I did it with Ruffcoin, that’s the one that is dropping this week. Episodes 8&9, the artists will remain withheld until it’s time to drop them (laughs) so that people will not come and say MetroLife dropped it first (continues laughing). Then in between The Conversation, this year I’ve done like uhm, if you have 9 conversation recorded with their videos down already, then I’ve done “I Can’t Breathe”, that’s making it 10, I’ve done “Presidential Speech” making it 11, I did “Shame The Devil” making it 12, uhm I also did something for Bullet Nigeria that didn’t fly. It’s still my intellectual property so I should count it, that makes it 13. I did something for TSTV, making it 14, I did another thing for TSTV, making it 15. So like this year plus or minus I’ve 15/16 works counting, with visuals.
What do you have planned for next year?
For next year, my project will be on singles. This year I dropped only one single, “Shame The Devil”. For me I rate it one of the most written rap songs in Nigeria. You know if you don’t blow your trumpet, no one will blow it for you. So that’s the only single I dropped this year, but next year it’s going to be fire to fire singles, and then we can take back the throne. So what I’m doing now is sustain the fans, feed their ear, give them what they want to hear.
How did the situation of the country this year affect your music?
The situation of the country right now doesn’t require dancehall. It’ll be stupidity of me to start dropping ukwu sara mbara at this era that people are crying for help, that the government is oppressing the people, where there’s no light, no good road, no advanced medical system, no education, nothing, and I’ll be singing we want to manya, what are we manyaring for? Manya will be when everywhere is stew, when everywhere is good. So that’s why I’m focusing on conscious music for now.
How did you get Charly Boy to be in the 6th episode of The Conversation?
“While I was doing what I was doing in Owerri, a lot of people were not paying attention. And most times you get discouraged by the number of views you have on social media. Some people may say they have 100,000 views and out of that 100,000 it may be secondary school children who may not even be able to buy a ticket in a night in a show, you understand, who their parents may not even allow to come out and watch your show. So the views were not like the I want them to be, the views were not like a hundred million views but they were views, and these views were not my family members because if you count me, my dad and my mom and siblings, we’re about 6 or 7, then if you add my maternal uncles, we’re like 13, and if you add my extended family members, we’re like 30 or 50 and the views I’m getting is up to 1000 and these were not my family views (laughs) so that means it’s growing. So when the views kept coming I did episode 1, dropped episode 2, 3, 4, it was the 5th episode, I was just going through my DM on Instagram, I first of all saw a follow back mention and I saw @areafada1 followed you. I looked at it and it was Charly Boy, I checked it, it was verified, I munch am and then I sent it to my boy (friend) Strit and said check this. He checked it and said it’s Area Fada, e no give me confidence. I forwarded the same message again to like three or four people, still e no give me confidence. Then I said okay let me now forward it to 2Blac, and 2Blac said O boy na Charly Boy o, I said okay. So I wasn’t paying attention to my DM too, I was just going through my mentions. So I looked up there and saw something blinking up there and I opened it and it was him. He said hello Acharaman, I am Charly Boy, are you in Lagos? I want to see you. Please drop your number. I dropped my number he didn’t call me the first day, the second day I was in the studio working so around like 2:30pm in the afternoon somebody called with a gentle mellowed voice. My name is Charly Boy. I said eehh Fada. He said see me tomorrow morning. I left that thing I was doing, called my boys (friends) 2Blac, Strit, Best Kid, we sat down and I said guys I must leave this night. While I was preparing I called Ruffcoin and said guy I have an emergency, I’m coming tomorrow. I wasn’t having enough money for transportation, my guys ran around and that same night I entered night bus at GUO. The next morning I was in Lagos. I picked an Uber to where Ruffcoin was living in Lekki. I called another producer friend of mine, Big Switch, and we went to Lekki phase 1 where Charly Boy stays. The first thing he asked me is what are you doing in Owerri (laughs). I said Fada no o. He said you’re too good to be in Owerri, I said Fada somebody must develop that place. He said no o you develop it from afar, it is when you have this bigger name that you can influence people around there. I said okay Fada let’s get something started, he said what is it, I said I want to record episode 6 of The Conversation, I want to put you in it. He said okay the one I watched is episode 5, I said yes. He said but you know I can’t rap, I said yes but Fada you can do something. Then I was doing it with recorded beats. He said okay but we have to change the instrumental, we have to make it Afro. It was there he now said, get a producer and let’s go to my studio in Maryland. Big Switch who was with me said Fada I’m a producer. He said okay so we can go to Maryland. He went upstairs, bathed, and his driver drove us to Maryland. While we were going we had other discussions, personal issues, and all. When we got to Maryland his boys were already there working. So they gave him space to work. After like one hour he was done. He said okay take it and go home and write, I said I’m recording now. He said okay this guy is serious o. I did the freestyle for him, he said I have gotten an idea of how this thing will be, after every six strips I’ll do “our mumu don do”. After we recorded, I shot the video in Lagos.
So what else exactly is Charly Boy doing to support your kind of music?
Yeah, there’s a whole lot of things coming up now. Like not within the range of The Conversation now but in my career, there’s a whole lot of things coming up. He’s taking up an advisory role, not manager (laughs), he’s too big to manage me, he has managers as well. And then also helping me stabilize one or two movements in Lagos. While I was there I got like three, four interviews just like this one. He’ll tell me go and meet Kunle, this other guy, Daily Sun, so it’s moving and I know there’s a whole lot more that’ll come from him.
And one of those advises is to move from Owerri
Yes he doesn’t want to hear that I’m staying in Owerri.
And how do you see that?
Yeah it’s a good advice, you know most times if you don’t leave your comfort zone you won’t see beyond your nose, so I was feeling like okay there’s something I want to do in Owerri, but now I’ve realized that even there in Lagos, it’s empty. I’ve paid my dues in Owerri. Basically it’s like staying close to where they are. If I’m in Owerri, probably Charly Boy would not have been in The Conversation. Because you need to explain to him what you want, you also need to convince him. Ruffcoin too probably may not have been in the series. Okay even if they’re in it, what about the videos? So all these things were able to be achieved within a short while because I was around there. So I’ve seen reasons, one million and one reasons to be there because it’ll also help to establish the city. So by January I’m moving out entirely from the town.
Thank you very much for coming around. We appreciate you.
Thanks too. I appreciate anytime, any day.